Is there a cure for Cushing syndrome?

Untreated Cushing syndrome can be life-threatening—fortunately, most people with the syndrome are treated and cured, and have a normal life expectancy.1

Sometimes, however, treatment for the syndrome does not return people to the same level of health as before.2 For instance, their bones may not regain their previous strength. People who no longer have Cushing syndrome might be more likely to develop diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol.3 It also is possible that a person cured of Cushing disease might not recover their previous mental strength, including memory, but any functional difference is usually small.4,5

People whose Cushing syndrome was caused by a tumor need to have regular checkups for the rest of their lives. Surgical removal of a tumor is usually 100% successful, but in rare cases some of the tumor is missed and can grow again.6,7

  1. Nieman, L. K., & Ilias, I. (2005) Evaluation and treatment of Cushing’s syndrome. Journal of American Medicine, 118(12), 1340-1346. PMID 16378774.
  2. Nieman, L. K., Biller, B. M. K., Findling, J. W., Newell-Price, J., Savage, M. O., et al. (2008). The diagnosis of Cushing’s syndrome: An Endocrine Society clinical practice guideline. Retrieved April 8, 2012, from External Web Site Policy.
  3. Lindsay, J. R., Nansel, T., Baid, S., Gumowski, J., & Nieman, L. K. (2006). Long-term impaired quality of life in Cushing’s syndrome despite initial improvement after surgical remission. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 91, 447-453.
  4. Tiemensma, J., Kokshoorn, N. E., Biermasz, N. R., Keijser, B. J., Wassenaar, M. J., Middelkoop, H. A., et al. (2010). Subtle cognitive impairments in patients with long-term cure of Cushing’s disease. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 95(6), 2699-2714. PMID 20371667.
  5. Keil, M. F., Merke, D. P., Gandhi, R., Wiggs, E. A., Obunse, K., & Stratakis, C.A. (2009). Quality of life in children and adolescents 1-year after cure of Cushing syndrome: A prospective study. Clinical Endocrinology, 71(3), 326-333.
  6. Steffensen, C., Bak, A. M., Rubeck, K. Z., & Jørgensen J. O. (2010). Epidemiology of Cushing’s syndrome. Neuroendocrinology, 92(Suppl 1), 1-5. PMID 20829610.
  7. Graversen, D., Vestergaard, P., Stochholm, K., Gravholt, C. H., & Jørgensen, J. O. (2012). Mortality in Cushing’s syndrome: A systematic review and meta-analysis. European Journal of Internal Medicine, 23(3), 278-282. PMID 22385888.